Wed Sep 30 6:35pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The San Francisco 49ers began a second straight week of practice with Nick Mullens at quarterback in place of injured starter Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo missed practice Wednesday with a sprained ankle suffered in Week 2 and his status for Sunday night's game against Philadelphia remains in doubt.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo will have to show in practice that he's healthy enough to avoid the pass rush in order to play Sunday.
''Anytime you're dealing with an ankle, you might feel all right when you're standing there, but can you move around and get into the awkward positions without hurting yourself? That's really what we'd have to see,'' Shanahan said. ''It would be tough for us to see that and truly judge that if he didn't get into practice. So, hopefully can get out there for at least one live period and we have those all the way up until Friday. We've just got to see that he's healthy, but that won't be able to happen if we can't get him in practice.''
The Niners did get some good news on the injury front with No. 1 receiver Deebo Samuel having a 21-day practice window open and All-Pro tight end George Kittle being a full participant.
Samuel hasn't practiced all season and was placed on injured reserve with a broken foot suffered in informal offseason workouts. Samuel caught 57 passes for 802 yards and three TDs as a rookie last season and also made big contributions in the running game. He had 14 carries for 159 yards and three scores.
''He's healthy, so we just want to see him out there and get back in the swing of playing football,'' Shanahan said. ''It's been awhile since he has. ... We just need to see him go through three days and what type of shape he's in and if he can protect himself, he'll be out there.''
Kittle missed the past two games with a sprained knee. He is one of the most important pieces to San Francisco's offense as both a dominating run blocker and the team's biggest threat in the passing game.
His 216 catches for 2,945 yards are the most ever for a tight end in his first three NFL seasons.
Having a healthy Kittle and possibly Samuel will be a big boost for whoever starts at quarterback. Mullens showed the dropoff isn't too big when Garoppolo is hurt by throwing for 343 yards and a touchdown in a win last week against the Giants in his first start in nearly 21 months.
Mullens has been very productive when he has played, with his 2,620 yards passing in nine career starts ranking third most at that juncture of a career, trailing only Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck.
''I think his confidence was definitely up there,'' right tackle Mike McGlinchey said. ''I think this time around, he knew he's had some accomplishments in this game as a starter. He's had success as a starter for our football team. I think it was just getting back to what he does. Nick's as good of a pro as we have in this building. He's always on his preparation. The way that his mind works and the way that he's able to think through the demands of our offense is as good as anybody.''
Despite how well Mullens has played, there's no quarterback controversy. Shanahan said there's no scenario where Mullens could play well enough to supplant a healthy Garoppolo as starter.
''This is Jimmy's team,'' Shanahan said. ''He's done a hell of a job for us and when he's healthy, he'll be playing again for us.''
NOTES: DE Dee Ford (back), LB Dre Greenlaw (quadriceps), CB Emmanuel Moseley (concussion), RB Raheem Mostert (knee), CB K'Waun Williams (hip) and TE Jordan Reed (knee) didn't practice. ... After several bad snaps on kicks last week, the Niners released long snapper Kyle Nelson and signed Taybor Peper for the role. ... San Francisco also signed TE Daniel Helm from Tampa Bay's practice squad to the active roster. ... LB Mark Nzeocha (quadrieps) was placed on IR. ... The team signed OL Cody Conway and TE Charlie Taumoepeau to the practice squad and released OL William Sweet from the practice squad.
Waiver Wire Adds: Week 4
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz is a solid starting option this week against Detroit. Lutz has been reliable this season, going 6-for-6 in field-goal attempts and 10-for-10 in extra point attempts. Playing on an offense that can generally move the ball, Lutz is a fine starting option against a Lions team that is middle-tier in points allowed to kickers.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is a flex option in Week 4 against a Detroit team allowing the 10th most points to fantasy receivers. Sanders has had a disappointing start with the Saints, only seeing 15 and 18 yards in the first two weeks before finally getting 56 yards and a score in Week 3. The veteran offered an encouraging performance the last time he took the field, but it remains to be seen if that can become consistent. On top of that, the potential return of Michael Thomas would likely decrease his value too. Therefore, he's only a flex at best.
If active, New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook would be a low-end TE1 against a Lions team that has been somewhat stingy at covering tight ends. Cook sustained a groin injury in the Week 3 loss to Green Bay and missed practice Wednesday, which doesn't sound too encouraging. If he ultimately cannot suit up, the New Orleans tight ends should be avoided for this week.
The New Orleans Saints Defense is not a viable streaming option this week against the Lions. After a terrific Week 1, this unit has struggled the past two weeks against the Raiders and Packers even with star-studded names playing on this side of the ball for New Orleans. Ultimately, they allowed 34 points in Week 2 and 37 in Week 3. The Lions don't have an explosive offense, but they are certainly capable of putting up numbers with guys like Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, and T.J. Hockenson. It's best to leave this reeling unit on the bench.
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray is only a low-tier flex option for this week against Detroit. With Alvin Kamara handling RB1 duties on the team, Murray hasn't seen more than 58 rush yards and 19 receiving yards in any contest thus far. He's only worth considering if your team has been hit by injuries or is affected by the Steelers-Titans postponement, but he still wouldn't be a strong option to deliver respectable numbers.
If active, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas would be a WR1 in this week's matchup with Detroit. Thomas has been nursing an ankle injury and has missed the past two games. He returned to practice on Wednesday in a limited fashion and it's still uncertain as to whether he will play on Sunday. If he does, he's a starter, and if he doesn't, Tre'Quan Smith is a flex option.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a QB2 for this week's matchup against the Lions. The veteran hasn't been the most explosive fantasy option this season and there has also been speculation of his decline. While he's still putting up serviceable numbers, they haven't been consistent. He tossed three touchdowns in Week 3, but managed only one touchdown and one pick in Week 2. As a result, there are better options than Brees for this week, but it's worth noting the Lions offer a favorable matchup for opposing QBs in case you don't have other strong options.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is a solid RB1 in this week's clash against the Lions. With Michael Thomas out the past couple of weeks, Kamara has been putting up herculean numbers as his receiving totals have been off the charts. He posted 139 receiving yards in Week 3 and 95 in Week 2. Regardless of whether Thomas returns, the RB's role is too rich on this team and he provides immense value in the rushing and passing game. As the engine of this offense, he's an RB1 against a Detroit squad allowing the seventh-most points to fantasy backs.
New York Jets WR Jamison Crowder (hamstring) was limited during practice Wednesday, Sept. 30, and is listed as questionable for Week 4.
Fantasy Spin: Crowder appears to have a chance to play this week, but fantasy players will need to check the inactive list for his official status. Crowder is a reliable receiver when healthy and could be at least a flex option if he plays.
New York Jets WR Chris Hogan (knee, ribs) was limited during practice Wednesday, Sept. 30, and is listed as questionable for Week 4.
Fantasy Spin: Hogan could be a game-time decision, so fantasy players will need to keep an eye on the situation. He likely will be a top-three receiver for the Jets if he plays but can be avoided in fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that tight end George Kittle (knee) is a full-go at practice on Wednesday. It means that Kittle should return in Week 4 against the Eagles after missing the last two games. It's perfect timing, too, with Jordan Reed going on Injured Reserve. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) looks set to miss his second straight game this weekend, but Kittle showed good chemistry with backup Nick Mullens in recent seasons and should immediately return to elite TE1 status for Week 4. With San Francisco's offense still pretty beat up by injuries, Kittle should see his fair share of targets in his first game back.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (neck) will be placed on Injured Reserve with a neck issue. Ford suffered the injury in Week 1 and hasn't played since. It's unclear how long he'll be out, but he'll be forced to miss at least the next three weeks while on IR. San Francisco's defense has been hurt by injuries early in the 2020 season, most notably with the season-ending injury to star pass-rusher Nick Bosa (knee) in Week 2. Although the 49ers Defense doesn't have as much season-long upside now, they remain a strong starting unit for fantasy managers in a Week 4 matchup against an Eagles Defense that is injured and out of sorts right now.
New York Jets WR Breshad Perriman (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 30, and has been ruled out for Week 4.
Fantasy Spin: Braxton Berrios and Josh Malone are the only two Jets receivers that are fully healthy. Berrios is coming off a solid Week 3 performance and could be a flex option in deeper leagues. Malone can be avoided in fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) is the team's starter over Nick Mullens when he's healthy. Garoppolo missed last week and Mullens threw for over 300 yards and a touchdown against the winless Giants, but the Niners are making it clear that Jimmy G is the starter when he's ready to return. He missed Wednesday's practice, though, making it likely that Mullens will get another start in Week 4 against the Eagles and their shaky secondary. Garoppolo can be a decent QB2 streamer in the right matchups, but it'll help if he gets some of his offensive weapons back from injury. Mullens will be a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues if he gets another start this Sunday.
New York Giants CB Brandon Z. Williams (groin) and S Jabrill Peppers (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 30. S Adrian Colbert (quadriceps) and CB Julian Love (ankle, knee) were limited during practice.
Detroit Lions S C.J. Moore (calf) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 30. TE Hunter Bryant (hamstring), DE Da'Shawn Hand (chest) and CB Desmond Trufant (hamstring) were limited during practice.
Indianapolis Colts RB Nyheim Hines (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Fantasy Spin: Hines had a bounce back performance last week after a disappointing Week 2 game. He will have a role in the running and passing game this week against the Chicago Bears and can be a flex option in deeper leagues.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the last two games with an ankle sprain. Thomas was moving well during the portion of practice open to the media, but he'll have to prove he's not at risk of aggravating his ankle if he plays in Week 4 against the Lions. The 27-year-old All-Pro is pushing to play this weekend, which would obviously be a huge boost for Drew Brees and the Saints offense. Keep a close eye on his practice status the next week, but Thomas is an obvious must-start if he's active this weekend. His return would be bad news for pass-catchers Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Jared Cook.
Buffalo Bills WR John Brown (calf) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Fantasy Spin: Brown's status for Week 4 is uncertain at this point, so fantasy player should monitor his practice participation. He should be a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues if he is able to play.
Buffalo Bills OT Dion Dawkins (shoulder), S Micah Hyde (ankle), DT Quinton Jefferson (foot) and LB Del'Shawn Phillips (quadriceps) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 30. LB Tremaine Edmunds (shoulder), QB Jake Fromm (non-injury) and DT Ed Oliver (knee) were limited during practice. TE Dawson Knox (concussion) fully participated in practice.